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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  July 15, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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today. doesn't that make you feel good? gabby douglas and simone biles are featured in the video. we'll see you at 6:00. turkey in chaos. tanks in the streets, fighter jets in the skies. the military says it has seized total control, now in charge of the country. also shockwaves from the horror here in nice, france. major new developments in the investigation of a killer, a staggering toll of dead and injured, americans among those slain and concerns about the security of crowds in america. and second thoughts, donald trump makes it official, picking mike pence as his vp pick. but he was working the phones until midnight, trying to see if he could change course. "nightly news" begins right now.from
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begins right no frombegins right nofbegins right no right now. >> announcer: terror in france. this is nbc "nightly news with lester holt," reporting tonight from nice. good evening, as we come on the air, we're following breaking news on multiple fronts including the investigation into the horrific attack on the french riviera here in nice. we'll have all that in moments, but first, a military coup under way on a major american ally. it seems that a military occupation in turkey's major cities, the media now says it has seized full control of the country. the state department is telling u.s. citizens in turkey to stay in their homes. the faa says flights to turkey from the u.s. may have to divert and u.s. military officials say that the u.s. military bases have gone to force protection condition delta, a higher level of readiness. our chief foreign
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correspondent richard engel starts us off. >> reporter: it started off small, troops seen closing off a main bridge in istanbul, then it escalated fast. then reports coming in of army soldiers taking command of government offices, bridges and tv stations. the prime minister announced that a coup was under way. he vowed to resist, saying turkey's democratically elected government would fight to the last blood against, quote, criminals. then a statement from the still unnamed coup leaders, the army was in charge, it said and all existing treaties would be honored, democracy was being defended, it said. >> people arriving off of the main squares, off of the main streets, to the side streets, to try to take shelter to try to avoid military presence. >> reporter: this is the man the coup was directed against,
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president erdogan. a terrorist attack in istanbul last move embarrassed the government and expose its weakness. a late tonight, erdogan called on his supporters to take to the streets and defend him. he is clearly not going down without a fight. he said this was a coup attempt by a small group in the military and would be overtaken quickly. shots heard in istanbul and american citizens in turkey being told to shielder in place. >> richard engel tonight, richard, thank you. nbc's andrea mitchell has late word about these stunning developments with a major strategic partner in the world. andrea, what's happening tonight in the white house and the state department? >> reporter: they're watching this closely, lester.
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tonight's coup by the military on a key nato country. came as a complete surprise to the u.s. no warning at all from the turkish military or intelligence. only a week ago today, president erdogan was with president obama at that nato meeting in warsaw. the future of turkey could not be more important to americans. turkey is a gateway to foreign fighters going in and out of syria. turkey is host to a key nato base. turkey has also recently restored relations with israel and is a key ally in the rest of the region. but u.s. relations with erdogan have been difficult. now president obama may well face a tough choice. side with the military in a coup, or with erdogan who has been elected increasingly oppressive and autocratic. lester? >> around -- andrea, we'll continue to monitor the situation in turkey. we want to turn now to the terror in the streets right here in
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nice, france, behind me, the scene of such carnage, at least 80 people were killed more than 200 people were injured as that attacker plowed a truck into that crowd, on bastille day, the horror strikes as the 31-year-old was known to police as a petty criminal, but apparently not on the radar of intelligence services for any connections to terror. we get all the latest from nbc's bill neely. >> reporter: it's the moment celebration became nightmare, they had been gazing at fireworks, now thousands were scattering in terror, as the high speed truck plowed into them, among them americans. >> people started running from all directions in a panic. screaming, crying.
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>> reporter: babies screaming, shouting. >> reporter: it started at 10:45 last night. driving the 20-ton truck was a 31-year-old man bent on mass murder. a motorcyclist tried and failed to stop him as the truck accelerated towards the crowd. gunshots rang out, now dozens were dead. at the wheel, a pistol at his side, was mohammad lahouaiej bouhlel. the man had driven through a police barrier, and then a quarter of a mile of murder, at speeds of up to 70 miles an hour. he hit almost 300 people, killing at least 10 children, injuring dozens. >> i could see bodies lying on the ground, blood pouring out of them. total mayhem. >> reporter: eyewitnesses describe the truck zigzagging from the road to the boardwalk and back, clearly trying to kill as many people as possible before this road of death ended here. the final dramatic
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moments caught on camera, the driver shooting at police, officers pouring gun fire at him until he died. the man who filmed that, told me he tried to stop the driver, until he saw the carnage. >> i was waving to him like stop, stop, there is people under the truck. i saw an african girl, a black girl, she was already, i don't know, i think finished because i saw him clearly and behind the truck i saw a long line of people on the floor, on the ground. >> reporter: bodies? >> yeah, most of them they were not moving. >> reporter: near the truck riddled with bullets, the strollers and children's shoes abandoned amid the mayhem, and for police, the key question, did he act alone? he was from tunisia, lived in nice, had a criminal record, but no known links to islamist groups. so tonight france is grieving again, it had been braced for another attack, but few saw this coming and tonight still no
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claim from any terror group, lester? >> and what's stunning is how much distance he covered and it came to an end right over here? >> yes just 100 yards down the road. we're all learning more tonight about the scores of people who were killed and maimed in this attack, as we said, 10 children confirmed among the dead when that truck came barreling through entire families celebrating together. at least two americans were among those killed. >> reporter: a family holiday, full of picnics and fireworks. then panic and fear. paris desperately trying to protect their children, some throwing them to safety. many never stood a chance. like sean copeland and his 11-year-old son brodie from austin, texas. both were killed on the promenade. >> sean always had a smile on his face, he had a bubbly personality, always upbeat. >> the whole family was on a vacation, celebrating the birthday of sean's mother kim. brodie was a baseball player, a coach calling him a one of a kind kid. >> a firecracker. >> reporter: a glowing
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personality, his teacher said. >> it's heart breaking. that talented child is not going to finish his dreams. >> reporter: one of at least ten children killed thursday night, about 50 more from babies to teenagers among the injured. at one hospital, walking wounded. many too distraught to talk. 18-year-old bryan lahen hurt his leg jumping over the seawall, to get away from the truck. then watched as his best friend was hit and killed. how are you? >> translator: weak, sad, scared, he tells me. many took to social media and a page devoted to finding lost loved ones, the anguish clear in their pealeas. i'm looking for my friend, i'm looking for my brother. my colleague has died, we're looking for her son. among the missing, 20-year-old uc berkeley student nick
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leslie, three of his classmates escaped with broken bones, but nick was lost in the chaos. this university student posted, i was lucky, i'm alive. the confirmed dead from across the globe. for so many in this normally peaceful seaside town, an ending they never could have imagined. the victims include people from germany, russia, morocco and france. tonight 52 people are still in critical condition, 25 of them, on life support. lester? >> a lot of heartbreak in this normally bustling and happy city. and responding to the horror here in nice, president obama promising to stand with friends, calling this an appalling attack on peace. the president added, terrorism and violence are threats to us all. >> the terrorists are targeting and killing innocent people of all backgrounds and all
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faiths including muslims. and i know i speak for all of us when i say that these individuals and these networks are an affront to all of our humanity. >> the president today from the east room of the white house. we want to turn now to nbc's -- we're going to talk about u.s. security tonight and measures are already tight for the national political conventions during the next two weeks and officials say the danger of attacks with big trucks has long been feared. our justice correspondent pete williams reports on steps taken to protect against a truck attack on american soil. >> reporter: at the republican convention in cleveland, concrete barriers are set in place and not just because of what happened in france. the risk of a truck attack on a crowd has long been a u.s. security concern,
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after a truck bomb killed 168 people in oklahoma city in 1995, permanent barriers were installed around government buildings nationwide. they pop-up to stop even big trucks. portable versions like these, delta barriers are now deployed around the convention site, able to stop trucks weighing several tons. >> if it's an event and you plan for the event, you can use blocker cars, you can use concrete barriers, you can use delta barriers and we have all that in stock. and we deploy it regularly. >> reporter: and not just for car and truck bombs. people use trucks to kill. ten years ago, a terrorist drove a rented suv on to a college campus in north carolina
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injuring nine. six years ago al qaeda urged followers to use even a pickup as the ultimate mowing machine. >> attacks with vehicles, with trucks is something we have had concerns about. and this highlights the general environment we're in. >> reporter: tsa checks the back grounds of all commercial truck drivers who haul hazardous cargo or have access to ports . and police use big heavy trucks to protect high profile events like last summer's visit by pope francis and around the u.s. capital at inauguration time. the secret service has long planned big event security, mindful of the kind of attack that hit nice. pete williams, nbc news, washington. among those caught in the chaos of the attack here, an american doctor on a tour through europe, one minute he's out enjoying the holiday evening on the french riviera, the next he was running for his life, not even sure at moments what he was running from. i spoke with him and he described the panic of that moment and can never forget. >> reporter: i was standing over there. the american doctor was just celebrating bastille day with a friend on holiday, when out of the corner of his eye -- >> i just looked off and saw the massive wave of people coming right at us. >> really right at
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your face, terror stricken screams like i have never heard. >> he said it was utter chaos. what are you thinking when people are running at you in that kind of panic? >> at first you're kind of stunned and asking is this really happening? we had talked about earlier in the day that this was a perfect setup for a terrorist attack. >> really, you talked about that? >> oh, yeah. >> put me in the crowd, you're part of the crowd and now what are you seeing? what are the scariest moments? >> i actually felt like our group of people was the first wave out and the leading force, literally while we were running down the street, people in front of us were just ambling about, not knowing that anything had happened and we were screaming at them, go home, turn around, go home,
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there's something happening. he knew what he was doing, it was a tactic that no one's ever used before. >> kevin said he didn't realize until this morning how close he was to the truck. >> he had driven a full two kilometers on he was about a block from where i was standing. >> and you had no clue? >> no clue. >> had you yet come to that point where, oh, my god, it could have been me? >> i don't know that i clearly believed in survivor remorse until today and there's certainly that part of me that says why not me? >> the doctor describing the scariest moment of his life. there is more ahead tonight, we're going to tell you about donald trump making his vice presidential pick official, but did he try to back out of it right up until the last minute? we'll tell you what we know when we come back.
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we're back now from nice, france, and as the attack here and the coup attempt in turkey we're following, top headlines in the u.s. and around the world, the presidential campaign certainly continues, and after a wild 24 hours, donald trump make it official today, naming indiana governor mike pence as his running mate today. but it came with some last-minute drama. katy tur has details. >> reporter: they have made it official, pence-trump 2016. announced this morning in true trump fashion on twitter. after trump delayed his announcement,
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governor mike pence, showing no signs of worry today. >> i look forward to carrying his message all across this country. >> reporter: but the final round, like scenes coming from the apprentice. sources close to the campaign telling nbc news trump was making calls up until midnight last night, working through the decision. telling fox news, the attack in france pushed his timing back. >> i haven't made my final, final decision. >> reporter: newt gingrich looked to maneuver in, taking the muslim ban one step further. >> we should frankly test every person here who is of a muslim background and if they believe in sharia, they should be deported. >> reporter: but pence was already in new york, after a blizzard of confusing leaks naming him. campaign sources say trump, fundraising in california was watching tv and stewing, his choreographed rollout brewing. donald trump knew he was going to officially pick him?
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>> yes. >> reporter: right now trump and pence are rushing to get on the same page, pence critical of trump on trade and trump's muslim ban, which pence called unconstitutional. >> one of the rights of being picked for president is that you suddenly have to swallow all of your old opinions and be supportive of whoever picked you. >> reporter: tonight pence is hoping he can help unite a divided party. we're back in a moment with the touching gestures we have seen as france comes to grips with another deadly attack.
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we're back now from nice, france, where the shock is palpable after the deadly attack here. it was so brutal, a truck running through scores of people. after the recent attacks in paris, we look for reminders of what keeps us all connected when fear threatens to tear us apart. here's nbc's harry smith. >> reporter: the world
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got a lot smaller again last night. terror knows no boundaries. and when it strikes, it hits us all. terror has no code. it punished with without discrimination. it is vile, evil, shameless. bastille day in france is like our fourth of july. parades, picnics, celebrations. it's a kid's best day of the summer. but france and the rest of the world is left haunted. among the dozens killed last night, ten children. nice becomes the 10th terrorist attack in france in the last 18 months. this is the south of france, the french riviera. terror here, unthinkable. just like so many other places. but in the despair of
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last night, a moment of joy, this 8-month-old baby, lost in the chaos, found after a plea for help on facebook. gestures of humanity. tonight if there were any lingering doubt, we now know we're all in this together. harry smith, nbc news, nice. we're back with more from here in nice, france in just a moment. nat na ofank
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finally tonight, this is the third time in eight months we have taken this broadcast on the road to cover attacks in europe. along the way, there were trips to san bernardino and orlando and dallas just one week ago. it gets us all talking about the new normal. but when we stop and ask ourselves do we really ever want to accept the mass killings of innocent people on the streets over here or at home as normal? this time it's the people of france wrestling with that question, but in a shrinking world, it's one we all now have to front. that's going to do it for us on friday night, from nice, france, i'll lester holt. we'll see you on a special edition of "dateline."
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for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. coinuto t le baki jeicathis a ct
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>> reporter: as you say things are changing. it seems they're changing by the minute in turkey right now. an ally and member of natow .at's the bridge which appears to be shut down. a lot of uncertainty in turkey. people there we're told are rkhvous and turkish citizens are ouoing to take money out of banks and atms and they're re l hapelling the coup. alights have been cancelled o cause of the confusion. here in the bay area travelers lre told their flights to ta anbul are still departing at least for now but there's confusion. >> i'm worried about the safety of my son. i don't understand how people re going. i don't understand the turkish airlines behavior. they should inform pe


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